If you were worried that the sale of Julie’s Waterfront and the excision of her name from the business would mean that the South Orange Avenue venue would lose some of its grunge, you can rest easy. The Waterfront, under new owners, still has its delightfully divey demeanor.
If you were hoping that new ownership might usher in better food and service, well, that might be a little more hit and miss.
A hit was certainly the Waterfront Burger, a thick patty, cooked precisely to medium-rare, topped with melted swiss cheese plus a bit of blue, with some caramelized onions, a thick rasher of smoky bacon, and some peppery leaves of arugula. The bun was nicely toasted, and though it was big, it was appropriate to the overall size of the burger. Good fries, too, nicely browned.
But the Whole Hog Red Beans & Rice was a definite miss on all counts. The meat was dry, and everything, save for the pickled onion that sat atop, was as bland as it could be. Also, it was served tepid.
Not sure in which category I’d place the Crab Cake Sliders. As crab cakes go, they were OK, coated and fried and topped with a splotch of mashed avocado and a salsa of sorts. As sliders go, however, they didn’t quite measure up. A slider, if there is to be a definition, is basically a miniature burger-like device. But these were missing the top part of the bun. I’m not at all sure that an open-faced slider is even a thing. Also, someone in the kitchen really liked pickled onions.
Service doesn’t get much more inattentive. Desperately hoping for some salt and hot sauce to try to save the pork and beans, I waited for our server to look over to our table after she delivered something to the party next to us. But she didn’t. Nor did she the next time she came to their table. So I got up and went on a condiment search myself, ironically ending back at the neighboring table to beg a borrow of their hot sauce.
Some painting has been done and corrugated metal has been applied as siding, for some reason. If anything was done to spiff up the interior it escaped my notice.
My guest and I sat outside, which has always been the best place to be when dining at this address, and still is, especially on a perfect night like the one we had. A stage to the side of the terrace had a lone guitarist playing an appropriate soundtrack for the lakefront. That was pleasant.
Something else that hasn’t changed, thankfully: the beer is still served cold.
The Waterfront is at 4201 S. Orange Ave., Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner daily, until 2 a.m. The phone number is 407-866-0468.